Sun Drops Behind Grange

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I noticed a bit of an orange glow in the sky one evening and decided to walk up the lane for a better vantage.

“I’ll come for a walk”, TBH told me.

So, back to the house to swap Crocs for socks and shoes, a modicum of faffing, and by the time we set off the sun had dipped behind a cloud and the prospect of a spectacular sunset seemed fairly remote.

It wasn’t until we reached The Cove that we realised that the sun, I think with an intervening veil of cloud, looked huge and was glowing orange.


Sun Drops Behind Grange

The Lazy Trumpeter

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Early light on the new leaves at the circle of beeches.

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Squirrel.

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Pano from Castlebarrow. (Click on this, or any other, picture to see a larger image on flickr)

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Orchids on the Lots.

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Early purple orchid.

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Welsh poppies.

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Bottoms Farm.

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Post sunset at The Cove.

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The entire beach has acquired a silver-grey crust. Not the best light to show it, I know.

So, back to my wish list of lockdown activities. Have I ‘practiced my trumpet playing’?. Have I heck. It sits in its case under my desk, just as it has for years. Perhaps I should explain – in my teens I was in a brass band. It was great fun, but I was a lousy musician: I didn’t practice enough. I didn’t play the trumpet. I started at second baritone horn and slowly progressed to first euphonium, not because of any progress on my part, but because it was a junior band and the other players grew up and left for pastures new. Mostly the senior band which practised in the same hall. I don’t remember anybody playing the trumpet, the closest we had was a solitary flugelhorn and a host of cornets. In good time, I moved away myself, and for many years didn’t play an instrument.

Anyway, some years ago, when all our kids were learning to play various instruments,  I decided that it was a shame that I’d ditched mine and decided to buy a trumpet – that being smaller and cheaper than what I’d played before. I did practice for a while, but my enthusiasm didn’t last all that long. I thought while we were off that I would have loads of time on my hands and would get started again, but it hasn’t really played out that way. Tomorrow though….I’m bound to pick it up again. There’s always tomorrow!


This…

…as well as providing the title for the post, is the piece which I remember most affectionately from my brass band days.

This is obviously very different. I saw Kid Koala live down in London many years ago with my brother. I think he was the support act, but I can’t remember who it was he was supporting. I do remember being spellbound when he performed this.

And from ‘Drunk Trumpet to ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’:

The Lazy Trumpeter

The Weeds Are Rising!

Spoiler: Dad (and anybody else who doesn’t like rodents) mouse pictures imminent later in this post.

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Peacock butterfly.

There’s a section of Inman’s Road where the sun gets through the canopy and warms the stones of the track. It seems to be a popular spot with butterflies. Strangely, despite their flashy colours, I often don’t see them until I’ve got too close and one of them takes to the wing. And once one lifts off, they all go.

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Another peacock.

There then ensues one of those, for want of a better phrase, butterfly dances, in which the assembled Lepidoptera swirl around each other in a merry waltz. Or is it merry? I can never decide whether the dance is an expression of aggression, curiosity, amour, or sheer joy, perhaps, at the end of lockdown hibernation.

“Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people
do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the
same town as the lilies of the field, and the still
waters.”

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“I ask again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure – your life – what would do for you?”

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There was some doubt, I believe, about the future of these Exmoor ponies who, for years, have been used for conservation grazing at Gait Barrows. Apparently their services are no longer needed, but fortunately a new home has been found for them. You could say that they’ve been put out to grass.

No?

So – what about my so called lockdown aspirations? Lets deal with an easy one – have I caught up with my blog? Well, yes and no: at the outset, I was still writing about last summer’s holiday, so things have definitely moved on.

But since I’m out walking and taking photos just about every day, new material is accruing at much the same rate as I’m posting it. I suppose one way to look at it is that  I’m close to reaching an equilibrium, which doesn’t sound like a bad place to be.

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The Bay post sunset.

“And consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.”

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Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), also know as a Field Mouse. The white belly, large back feet (for jumping) and general cuteness differentiate this from a House Mouse.

The wood mouse is the most common species of mouse in Britain. Very common in our garden judging by the number the cats leave lying around in the house. This one had a lucky escape, I rescued it from the cats and persuaded it to shelter in a cereal packet, before releasing it onto our patio. Understandably, it was terrified and I was able to take some photos before it ran off.

All winter, it’s been evident that something or other was burrowing in our compost heap. The size of the holes had me convinced that it must be rats, but subsequently I’ve found a few bedraggled wood mice corpses near the compost, so maybe they were the culprits.

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A few days after I rescued this little chap, I found another one in the house. (Or perhaps the same one?) B and I tried and failed to catch it. In the end, the whole family were enlisted. It got behind some bookcases – we had to unladen three large bookcases, and move them. The mouse was still too quick for us, but we had it surrounded, and staked out the desk it had nipped behind. B, armed with a feather duster, flushed it out and S dropped an ice-cream tub over it. We re-wilded the perisher and then all we had to do was move all of the furniture back into place and try to work out how to get the contents of the shelves back into place, although it was evident to all that we somehow now had at least four bookcases worth of books, maps, craft items, correspondence, shoe boxes full of who knows what etc to ram back in.

A Sunday evening to remember!

I realise, a little belatedly, that I’ve posted about my birthday, and mentioned my birthday presents, without having said anything about the gifts I received at Christmas. Principally, I got to spend time with family, which now seems even more important than it did at the time. But I also asked for a couple of things. And just to make sure that the message didn’t get garbled, having asked, I ordered them online for good measure. If a thing is worth doing….

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There were just two items: a CD, ‘Doggerel’ by Fontaines DC, of which more at some point I’m sure, and a book, ‘Devotions’ the selected poems of Mary Oliver.

It was a comment on this blog which first alerted me to the poetry of Mary Oliver. It took me a while to track that comment down, but it was on this post. And Moira, I don’t know if you are still reading, but I hope that you are well and coping with the vicissitudes of lockdown, and you should know that I am extremely grateful for the nudge you gave me.

For the purposes of this post, wanting something suitable to quote, I opened a page at random in the book and found the poem ‘Evidence’. All of the quotes, and the title, come from that.

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
singing, especially when singing is not necessarily
prescribed.”

Which brings me to:

Back in March, I was involved in a marvellous project, ‘These Hills Are Ours’, which involved climbing Clougha Pike from Morecambe seafront, as part of a volunteer choir and singing a specially composed song. I expected today’s blogpost to be about that walking and singing, but the film of the event is still under wraps, so I’m biding my time.

However, the week before, a group from Stockton had done much the same thing, climbing Roseberry Topping and that’s them in the film.

Two more walks, in London and Devon, were envisaged, but I suspect the coronavirus may have put a stop to those.

Some links to the creatives…

Daniel Bye who wrote the words.

Boff Whalley who wrote the music.

and Bevis Bowden who made the film.

It’s only now that I’ve realised that Boff was lead guitarist in Chumbawumba, which for most people, I know, means the one-hit wonder Tub-thumping, but I was more than a bit obsessed, for quite some time, with their first album, the snappy title of which should appear below in the video. The phrase “it’s a nice sound, it’s a happy sound and it’s not doing anybody any harm” became a bit of standing joke for me, my brother and our flat mate S.

They did make other records, but there was a long hiatus before the second, and by then I had literally moved on, started teaching and somehow it passed me by. Maybe I’ll delve into their archive now.

Oh, and I almost forgot about yesterday’s quiz question. It was, of course, Rockafeller Skank, by Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim:

It’s a nice sound, it’s a happy sound…..

The Weeds Are Rising!

Smarty Plants

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Rosemary flowering in our garden.

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Toothwort near Inman’s Road in Eaves Wood.

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A tree-creeper again. In fact there were two and they flew in an upward spiral round this tree trunk at dizzying speed, apparently only millimetres from both the bark of the tree and each other. It was mesmerising to watch. Whether it was a territorial spat or a mating game, I don’t know.

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The Lots were peppered with the Leopard-spotted leaves of Early Purple Orchids and the promise of flowers soon to arrive.

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Almost sunset at The Cove.

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Song Thrush.

Can plants hear? Remember things? Learn? Think?

This Radiolab podcast, one of many of this subject I suspect, reports, in a very engaging way, on studies which look to answer exactly those questions. I can highly recommend it.

And, whilst I’m harping on yet again about the wonderful Radiolab, I’m also grateful to the fact that one of their podcasts has put me on to the music of John Luther Adams.

I contemplated adding one of his pieces to my daily playlist, but I don’t feel like I’m familiar enough with it yet to pick a piece out, so instead, another (very different) piece of modern orchestral music Gavin Bryars ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’.

This is the short version, featuring Tom Waits. I’m a big fan of Tom Waits, but prefer the original version without him. However, that’s over 20 minutes and therefore maybe not jukebox material?

Smarty Plants

Get Ready

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Sunset from Jack Scout.

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Post Sunset from near Gibraltar Farm.

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Roe deer buck chilling in our garden.

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A group of four Roe Deer in our garden.

These mid-week photos from early March* bring the blog into Lockdown Mode, which is not likely to be very dissimilar from what goes on hereabouts most of the time – familiar walks, to familiar places; lots of photos of sunsets, deer, the Bay, leaves, clouds, butterflies etc – but now, without a commute or any taxi dad duties for me to perform, I’ve been getting out for a walk every day, in daylight hours, so there will be lots more of it. Get ready!

Which neatly brings me to today’s musical offering, and another familiar song in perhaps unfamiliar guises. Surely everybody knows ‘Get Ready’, the Smokey Robinson penned, 1966 hit for the Temptations. Here it is, just in case you’ve been living under a rock and Motown has passed you by…

Clearly, you couldn’t top that iconic original take on the song? Unless, maybe, you could persuade Ella Fitzgerald to record it…

This is from a 1969 album which also has a great version of ‘Knock on Wood’ and a pretty good cover of The Beatles “Got to Get You into My Life’. Not what you expect of Ella really.

And talking of the unexpected, my own favourite take on ‘Get Ready’ is Gregory Isaac’s very laid back Lover’s Rock version…

If you are intrigued, Rare Earth recorded a cover which lasts for over twenty minutes and there’s a slightly odd Nancy Sinatra version too.

* I’ve skipped a special hill-walk from mid-March which will have to wait a couple more weeks before I can publish a post.

Get Ready

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.

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Daffodils on the bank on Cove Road.

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Primroses in the same spot.

February half-term brought lots more rain. I know it did, because I remember the flooding…

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View from by Arnside Tower of the flooding by Black Dyke.

…and how it steadily got worse. But I have lots of photos showing blue skies and sunshine.

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Arnside Knott.

The explanation for that apparent contradiction is simple: because the weather was poor it seemed a bit pointless to drive anywhere to walk, but there were pleasant interludes between the storms and, being at home, I was poised to take advantage of them.

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The flooding extends into the woods.

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Scarlet Elf Cup.

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Eaves Wood.

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Because of the extensive flooding of Silverdale Moss and the adjoining fields between the railway line and Arnside Tower Farm, the circuit around Middlebarrow and Eaves Wood became a bit of a favourite – and has remained so actually.

Not that I neglected my other favourite local wanders…

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Sunset from the Cove.

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Chickens!

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Woodwell.

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The path near Woodwell, flowing well.

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Lambert’s Meadow. You can just about make out the new bridge in the foreground – it was thoroughly submerged.

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Arnside Tower.

But I kept coming back past the tower to see the expanding lake below its slightly elevated position.

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The flooding again – it was getting wider every day.

Until, this day, when I met a former colleague who was out walking her dog and chuckling to herself as I approached.

“You’ll need wellies”, she explained, glancing at my shoes.

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Flooded woodland.

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Including over the path.

I managed to get dry-shod past the flooded section of path, but it was surprisingly difficult to do so.

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Flotsam at the Cove.

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Eaves Wood.

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My first attempt at Pain de Campagne. Sadly, it didn’t taste like the wonderful bread we bought in France, but it was still very palatable.

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Daffodil at Far Arnside.

I had a stroll over to Far Arnside to check on the wild daffodils there, but only a few were  open.

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Green Hellebore at Far Arnside.

The Green Hellebore was all flowering though, in several patches on both sides of the path – I can’t decide if it has spread or if I just missed all but the largest patch on previous visits.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember what else we did during half-term, aside from me making bread and getting out for local walks. I’m sure we did do other things, but if I didn’t photograph it…..Oh – we decorated B’s room, that occupied a fair deal of time. In the process, I discovered the Radiolab podcast which does science, history, human nature, all of it in a very engaging way. Perfect for when we have time on our hands, you’d think, which makes it all the more inexplicable that I haven’t listened to any episodes for a few weeks. Actually, I think that’s because I got into the habit of listening to it when I was doing boring quotidian tasks – ironing, painting, etc none of which I’ve been doing much of over the last few weeks.

This pattern of frequent local walks over ground which is very familiar, to both myself and regular visitors to this blog, has continued after half-term, particularly since schools were closed and I have been working from home. Which gives me a bit of a dilemma as to how to organise forthcoming posts. I can’t write a post per walk, since then I will never catch up. I don’t think I have the mental capacity to organise the posts thematically, so I shall probably just amalgamate several walks into a single post as I have done here. Anyway, I’ve taken an awful lot of photos, so there will have be some sort of selection process. Gird yourselves.

Lady Love, Robin Trower. The British Jimi Hendrix apparently. I thought we’d adopted Hendrix anyway. Great tune regardless – dig that Cow Bell!

One upside of working from home is that I can listen to music whilst I’m working. I’ve been listening to things I only have on vinyl and haven’t played for years. This one dates back to a compilation album my parents bought me for Christmas when I was a nipper. I remembered how much I liked the compilation, but had forgotten how magnificent this song is.

Walk, Eat, Sleep Repeat.

The Salt Path

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Another February late afternoon, post-work wander to The Cove, but this time I actually made it in time for the sunset. Some of the winter storms coincided with high tides and reshaped the shingle beach at The Cove, also leaving a heap of driftwood and other detritus at the back of that beach…

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Nothing much else to say about this very familiar route.

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So, I shall take the opportunity instead to recommend a book I read recently.

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It’s a memoir. A couple lose their family home and discover that he has a terminal illness. With nowhere to live, and against all advice, they decide to walk the Southwest Coastal Path, camping along the way. It’s a lovely read, much more uplifting than the grim circumstances might suggest.

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The Salt Path